For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption whereby you cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
Father, we thank You for that truth today, knowing that standing here in our midst are some, who at this very moment are experiencing difficulty, trial, going through suffering; knowing Lord, that there are people throughout the world who name the name of Christ, who are experiencing persecution and tribulation that we can’t even begin to fathom. Lord, knowing that You have great things in eternity planned for all of us. And we look forward to the day when we stand in Your presence, where there is “fullness of joy; and at Your right hand pleasures forevermore.” But we ask, God, that as we stand here on this earth, as You have desired that we be here as a witness unto You, that You would enable us, Lord, to rejoice with hope in Your glory, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of difficulty, because we are Your children. So God, remind us of these truths today; teach us and instruct us in Your word, that we would be able to display Your glory more effectively in our neighborhood, in our workplace, wherever You would take us, we ask in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
Romans, chapter 8 is a glorious passage of Scripture; it has been a true joy for me, over the last several weeks, to spend much time in meditation and study here in these verses in Romans, chapter 8. And as we come before the throne of grace today, we do so as those who are redeemed by precious blood. We do so as those that are ransomed from sin and from death. We do so as those who are rescued from eternal damnation. As Romans, chapter 8, verse 1 says, “For there is therefore now no condemnation,” no damnation, “to those who are in Christ Jesus.” By the principle of the Spirit, and the power of God working in and through us, we have been set free from, removed from the grip of sin and death; no longer under that oppressive sentence of sin and death. What we could not do through our own personal righteousness in the law, God has done by sending Jesus in the flesh, as, what the Bible calls the propitiation – which is a big theological word for the substitutionary sacrifice. He’s the One who stands in our place, taking the wrath of God upon sin upon Himself for us. There, on the cross, Jesus bore in His body, our sin, and upon His soul, the punishment due every single one of us; we should be the ones taking that punishment. Not necessarily just the punishment of the physical agony of the cross, but the punishment of the wrath of God, which is unseen to human eyes in that instance; but He received it all upon Him for us. And that was something that we should have received, and yet in Christ we’re set free from that. He destroyed, by that action there on the cross, He destroyed sin’s power and death’s hold, making it possible for the perfect righteous requirement, the perfect righteous standard of God’s law to be worked out in us and through us, by His Holy Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit, no longer in the flesh, we can fulfill the righteous requirement of God’s law, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit is what the Scripture calls Him. He dwells in us, and therefore our old man has been crucified with Christ. We rejoice in this truth today, that that old man has been crucified with Christ; our spirit has been made alive by His Spirit, by His power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead has raised our lifeless spirit to life once again. The Bible says in Ephesians that we are now seated with Him in heavenly places. We have a position of righteousness before the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the One who is holy, holy, holy; before Him we stand as righteous because of what He did on our behalf there on the cross. These are good, good things. He now gives life by His Spirit to these mortal, earthly, carnal bodies, that they can work in such a way that brings Him honor and praise. That which we could never do by our own strength in the law, God does by His Spirit in and through us as we yield to Him. The sinful deeds that this carnal flesh desires to do; Romans, chapter 7 says that this flesh desires to do things that are against God. Anybody ever experience that? Those things that it desires to do, we have the ability to be victorious in Christ over that desire.
The question, though, is how do we do this? We see the theological proof for it in the Scripture, but what’s the practical reality of it being worked out in our lives? How is this accomplished? Well consider with me verse 14 of Romans, chapter 8. Romans, chapter 8, verse 14: “For,” says Paul, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” How do we live out righteousness according to the Spirit of God? Paul says as the sons of God, that’s our position, the children of God; as children of God, we do so just as Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, the only begotten Son of the Father, as He did. How did He do so? Well, we’re told by being led by the Spirit.
Well that begs the question: What does it mean really to be led by the Spirit of God? First we must recognize that Jesus is the prime example of what it means to be led by the Spirit of God. So if you want to know how we are to walk being led by the Spirit of God, or what it looks like to be led by the Spirit of God, then you need to get to know Jesus. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing to get to know Jesus. And the place that we are able to get to know Jesus is in the gospels, as presented in the New Testament. With that in mind, we kind of have to ask the question: When was the last time that we spent, personally, time in the gospels, on a regular basis? I wonder what would happen in our lives if we would take 30 days to just, every single day, spend time in the gospels with Jesus, reading through it, or even listening to it? How many of you have a Smart Phone? You know you can download apps for free on here; like the You Version Bible app, and just listen to it while you’re driving to work in your car every single day. I wonder what would happen in our lives if just for, you know, that commute every single day, whether it was to school or to work or whatever it may be; I mean it takes me 20 minutes sometimes just to get across from the east end of Escondido to the freeway. Just those 20 minutes, what might happen in our lives, how might we get to know Jesus, the King of kings, and be able to see what it means to be led by the Spirit of God, just by listening to how He lived, and what He did? So Jesus, we’ve got to recognize, is the prime example.
Now surely from the time that Jesus was baptized, which the gospel accounts reveal to be the essential beginning of His ministry, Jesus was led by the Spirit. Why is that? Well, in the gospels, Matthew, Luke, and John specifically, we find that Jesus was baptized there, near the Jordan River, by John the Baptist, and when He came up out of the water, the Scriptures say that the Spirit of God descended upon Him. John’s gospel tells us, in John, chapter 1, verse 32, “and the Spirit of God abode upon Him,” stayed upon Him; and from that point on Jesus is led by the Spirit of God. Now it’s very interesting, the very first thing that He’s led to, in fact the only time in the gospels that it explicitly says, “Jesus, led by the Spirit,” is in Matthew, chapter 4, verse 1, where it says this: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” What do we learn from that? We learn that temptation is a reality in the life of a Spirit-led follower of God. Temptation is a reality in the life of someone who is led by the Spirit of God. You see, there is this thought sometimes, among Christians, that to be led by the Spirit of God means to be untouched by temptation. But that’s not what the Bible reveals. Jesus, led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Now I imagine that you and I have probably never been visited by The Devil. We’ve probably been tempted by some other evil worker, principality, or power; but thank God you’ve never probably had a personal encounter with The Devil. Jesus did, as led by the Spirit. Now, it is my belief that Jesus’ entire life and ministry, after His baptism, was a life and ministry led by the Spirit of God. But it’s very interesting that the first thing that He was led to is to be tempted. And we see very clearly that temptation is a very real part of our lives. Now, the interesting thing about the temptation of Jesus there in Matthew, chapter 4, is how He responded to temptation as led by the Spirit of God. Three times, as Jesus was tempted three times, He answers, “It is written.” As led by the Spirit of God, Jesus encountered temptation and defeated the tempting act of the enemy by saying, “It is written.” The word of God has power in the life of the follower of God, as led by the Spirit of God, against temptation which is aimed at our flesh.
Now how many of you have experienced in your life that you have actually fallen to temptation before? Go to Claim Jumper, see that like foot-long chocolate pie thing they got goin’ on there. We’ve all fallen at some point, although only about a quarter of you raised your hands, I’ll give you the grace on that one; we all have fallen to temptation that is aimed at our flesh. How do we overcome that? Well it’s very important to recognize that temptation, which is a very real part of the life of the one led by the Spirit of God, is defeated by the word of God in the life of the believer. The enemy is always seeking to get us to walk in our flesh, and not be led by the Spirit of God. But if we are to maintain that walk in the Spirit in the face of temptation, then we need to learn from the lesson of Jesus here in the gospels when He was led by the Spirit facing temptation. Temptation’s always aimed at our flesh. The enemy wants us to walk in the flesh; God desires that we would walk in the Spirit, not fulfilling the desires of our flesh. Jesus shows us how victory comes against the desires of the flesh. So the issue is the word of God needs to be so central in our lives that we, at any moment, faced with any temptation can recall just what it is that God has said, using it as a weapon, because the Bible is called the…what of the Spirit? “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they’re powerful in God for the tearing down of strongholds.” What is the primary weapon that the Christian has in the battle against temptation to walk in the flesh? The word of God by the power of the Spirit of God. It’s appalling that less than 5% of American evangelical Christians, as shown by several research studies by Barna and other groups, it’s appalling that less than 5% read their Bibles on a regular basis. That, when you see the level of fleshliness in the church is high, it’s no wonder that it is, when the level of being in God’s word is low. We hide His word in our hearts that we might not…what? …sin against Him. How did Jesus defeat temptation when the enemy came to tempt Him? By the word of God – “It is written.”
Guys, this is key. What would it be like in our lives if we actually took God seriously about the power of His word? Do we really believe that His word “is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword?” Or do we just make kind of casual lip service to that reality? I say that as one who also struggles having a devotional time, and many pastors do. Why? Because we spend so much time in Bible preparation that we have a tendency to put aside devotional time. And when you don’t do that, you will fail, constantly, always. And so Jesus is the prime example of what it means to be led by the Spirit. And if we want to be those who have victory, as Jesus is the example of victory, then we need to be those who walk as He walked, getting to know who He is and how He walked, by going through the gospels. And I realize that maybe reading is something that’s difficult for some of you. And that’s why I say, “Hey, listen to the word of God.” “Faith comes by”…what? “…hearing.” You know we want to be listening to God’s word, putting it into us. And we have the ability to do that, easily, to listen to it. Simply stated, being led by the Spirit means walking as Jesus walked. And as we do, we can trust that God will work in us to desire and do those things that are pleasing to Him, Philippians, chapter 2, verse 13.
Jesus said, in John, chapter 8, verse 29, “I always do those things that please the Father.” “I always do those things that please the Father.” Now we recognize that that would have to be the case for Jesus. He always, continually, every single day, consistently did those things that pleased God the Father. How many of you would say, “I would like to be like that?” John 8:29 though, says some more, because it gives us a little bit more detail. Let me read to you the actual verse, it says this: “‘And He who sent Me,” Jesus said, “‘He who sent me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do the things which please Him.’” How did Jesus always do the things that please Him? His Father, by the Holy Spirit, was with Him; He was walking as led by the Spirit of God. Well, do you realize that Jesus has not left us alone? John, chapter 14, verse 16, Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” Verse 18 says, “I will not leave you helpless.” How does He not leave us helpless? He gives us a Helper. “I will come to you.” He comes to us by His Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:27, God says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them,” and do those things that please Him. What do we see previously in Romans, chapter 8? That “those who walk in the flesh,” verse 8, “cannot please God.” “Those who walk in the flesh cannot please God.” We desire to be pleasing to God, but the only way we can actually be pleasing to God is to walk as led by the Spirit of the Lord God. And as we walk by the Spirit, we are able to be pleasing, and God is enabled us to do that by giving us His indwelling Holy Spirit.
So he says, “For as many,” Paul does, Romans, chapter 8, verse 14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God.” So the next thing we learn here, from Romans, chapter 8, verse 14, is that sonship – that is the visible evidence that a person is a child of God – is evidenced by being led by the Spirit. Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. This is not a condition, that if you’re led by the Spirit, then you are a son of God. No, you are a son of God, and it’s proved by the fact that you’re led by the Spirit of God. It’s seen, it’s evidenced there. Those that are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. The inverse is true also – those who are the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God.
How does one become a son, a daughter, a child of God? Well, let me give a few verses for us to consider in answer to that question:
John, chapter 1, verse 12 says this: “But as many as received Him,” Jesus, “to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.” How does a person become a child of God? By receiving Him and believing, that is trusting, in His name.
Galatians 3:26, Paul says this: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”
And 1 John, chapter 3, verse 1, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God!” It is by His love for us that He has brought us into this relationship of being His children.
Galatians 4, 4 and 5, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem,” that is to buy back, “those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” God loved us, sent His Son to buy us back, to redeem us as His children, that we would be adopted into His family. And this is something that God has predestined us to in Christ.
Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 5: “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” It pleases God to make wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked sinners His children. He’s looking for orphans that He can make His children. How awesome is that? And we once were lost, orphaned, but now we’re found, by amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like us. And He’s made us His children; behold what manner of love that is. Hard for us to even fathom.
Verse 15, Romans, chapter 8, Paul says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Daddy is literally what that means. If you go to Israel today and you hear little Hebrew children calling out to their daddy, they say, “Abba, Abba.” “We have received the Spirit of adoption.” We’ve “not received the spirit of slavery, bondage again to fear.” “We’ve received the Spirit of adoption.” He’s welcomed us in through and by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we are destined – that is our destination – to receive the adoption. Now, verse 23, Romans, chapter 8 is going to tell us that we’re still waiting for it to be completely finalized. Look at Romans 8, verse 23: “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the”…what? “The adoption,” which is what? “The redemption of our bodies.” Someday we are going to be with Him, with God the Father, in His presence, glorified there, and the adoption is complete. That’s the destination. In Christ we’re predestined to get there; we’re going to get there, because the destination is certain. Now we’re going to talk more about predestination next week, in Romans, chapter 8, verse 29; which is a topic that a lot of people want to talk about and think about. But at the very least I just want to say this about predestination before we get there, because I can hardly wait.
If you go to LAX, and you’re going to Singapore, and you go to LAX, you check through security, all that stuff, you’ve got your boarding pass in hand, you’ve got your passport there, you come to the gate, and there you see “Gate 46,” or whatever it is. It says: “Singapore.” And you get on the plane; are you in Singapore yet? No, but you’re in the plane, you’re predestined to get there, because you’re in the plane. You made a lot of decisions before you got in the plane, a lot of choosing before you got in the plane. But now you’re in the plane, and you’re destined, predestined to get to the destination, because that’s where the plane is going. We are predestined to get to this adoption, because we’re in Christ. We’re going to get there, because He has a destination set. It will happen.
So we did not receive a spirit of bondage or slavery. He didn’t win us to Himself, redeem us, purchase us to be His slaves. He bought us to be His children, to give us this Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” So as a Christian, we have the Spirit of Christ, the Bible tells us; we have the Spirit of God dwells in us, Romans 8:9. Christ is in us, Romans 8:10; the Holy Spirit is in us, Romans 8:11; because of which we can live according to the Spirit, Romans 8:13; and be led by the Spirit of God, Romans 8:14. For the Spirit we have received brings us back, not to a fearful slavery, but into a relationship with God as our Father, as our Abba, Daddy. He’s “not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind,” Paul says in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7. The Spirit we have received in Christ is called here the Spirit of adoption. That word, in the original language, it literally means to place as a son or to ordain as a child. By His choosing, He’s set to make us His children. We are not longer fearful slaves; we are now sons and daughters of God, by the Spirit. And because of the Spirit of grace, we’re sons and daughters, born again unto a new nature – “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” – born again to a new nature. So, by our new nature, by our very nature being born again, we are the children of God by nature, because His Spirit has made our spirit alive again. But now we’re also, we have a legal standing because of this adoption. We have a legal standing because of this adoption. In the Roman culture, the Roman world of the First Century, an adopted son was a deliberately chosen individual, by the adoptive father, to perpetuate his name, and to inherit his estate. He was in no wit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature. So, an adopted child, in the Roman world, in the First Century had all rights of inheritance, carrying on the name. Now, if you want to see a really great portrayal of this, I beg you to watch Ben Hur. Such a cool movie; I know it’s a little old, but it’s a cool movie. Ben Hur, sold into slavery; he had great wealth, and all of a sudden he’s a slave on a Roman ship – Rower #41 – and he saves the life of the commander of the ship, who ultimately adopts him as his son, and he has all rights. It’s a really killer movie; especially when he goes back to the guy who, like, deceived him, and he ends up as a slave, and he comes in and he’s got the signet ring of a governor of Rome. It’s just awesome; I’m like, “YES!!” Watch it, it’s probably on Netflix. It’s like three hours; it’s one of those movies that has an intermission. It’s awesome!! Man, The Lord of the Rings needed an intermission. Whoa!! I’m not kidding. You go and you get like that 50 ounce bladder buster and go watch Lord of the Rings, ain’t gonna happen. Sorry, I digress. Anyways. By this Spirit of adoption, we cry out, this is the cry of victory!! “Abba, Father.”
Verse 16 – “The Spirit,” the same Spirit of adoption, “the Spirit Himself…” God’s Spirit Himself, not some other messenger, not even an angel, the Spirit of God Himself “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It’s not like someone casually comes and gives you some notice. Like, “I just want to let you know, the adoption’s complete, and you know, God, you’re His kid.” No. God’s Spirit, the very presence of God dwelling in us says, “You are Mine. You’re My child, because I redeemed you, I bought you. I’ve made you My son, My daughter.” His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we have this sonship. How? By enabling us, first, to cry out, “Abba, Father.”
I’ll never forget a story that a friend of mine, a hospital chaplain over on the coast, told me. He was serving a Jewish family. This is an evangelical Christian chaplain, just serving a Jewish family, as they are getting ready to unplug their father from life support. And he’s just there to comfort them, to be an ambassador of the Lord there in that moment. And he’s trying to keep his distance, because he’s just trying to support them however he can. “Can I call a Rabbi for you? What would you like?”
And they said, “No, chaplain would you mind just praying with us?”
“I would count it a great honor to pray with you.” And so he didn’t want to offend them, so he’s not, you know, “In Jesus’ name!” He’s not doing any of that sort of stuff, although he’s praying in the name of Jesus. And as he’s there praying with them, he says, “Amen,” and he opens his eyes, and he says tears are streaming down the faces of all this family. And he says, “I’m deeply sorry. Have I offended you?”
They said, “No, you haven’t offended us. It’s just, you talk to God like you have a relationship with Him.”
They were so impacted that this man had a relationship with God. He calls out to Him as Abba, Father. They don’t have that. They long for it. This is what we’re going to see when we get into Romans 9, 10, and 11. It says we’re to stir them up by jealousy. The life that we have in relationship with God, the world should look on and say, “I want that.” Because we live in a world with a desperately bad “father condition,” don’t we? We do. How many of you would say, “I think I’ve got a little bit of a daddy problem?” I’m thankful; my dad’s sitting right here, it’s awesome, my earthly father.
“Abba, Father.” He enables us to cry out, “Abba, Father.” He kindles in us, the Holy Spirit works in us new desires to do what’s pleasing to our Father. We’ve already considered that – Philippians, chapter 2, verse 13. The Holy Spirit grants us spiritual insight and understanding. The word of God is spiritually discerned, and He shows us what it means, because our Father wrote this. And He goes, “Hey, let Me show you what your Dad meant when He said this.”
“Oh wow, that’s it.”
You know one of the things that God does, by His Spirit, reminding us that we’re His children, is revealed to us in Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 5 and 6. It says this: “You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons,” as children:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.”
What does He do, as the children of God? Yeah. He chastens us. Experienced the chastening of the Lord lately?
Verse 6, Hebrews 12: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens,” He disciplines. I know, maybe you don’t know that word chasten, that means He spanks ya. Anybody experience the chastening of the Lord lately? “Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son He receives.”
He goes on to say, the author of the book of Hebrews, he goes on to say if you don’t have that, you’re not a real child, you’re illegitimate. Now the King James words a little bit better that illegitimate. I won’t say it today. You can imagine.
Why do we need this witness of the Spirit? Because in our carnality sometimes we question whether or not we truly are children of God, because of the fact that we fail. Sometimes we go, “I can’t possibly be a child of God.” And His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are. This co-witness of the Holy Spirit assures us of our position. Just as Jesus, when He came, in John, chapter 5, verse 31 He says, “I don’t bear witness of Myself. I receive the witness also of My Father. My witness, My own personal witness is not true, but I receive the witness of My Father.” We receive the witness of the Father that we are the children of God. So we have His Spirit bearing witness to our spirit and with our spirit that we are His children. And “by the mouth of two or three witnesses let a matter be established,” says Deuteronomy, chapter 19, verse 15. It’s an established fact – we are His children. Not because of anything we did; we didn’t earn this inheritance; we received it by grace. We have this witness of the Spirit so that we will know that Christ abides in us and we in Him. 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He is in us, because He has given us His Holy Spirit.” The Spirit of God assures us of our destiny. Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 13 and 14, and 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 22, they tell us that He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise, guaranteeing us that we will be with Him for eternity. The abiding presence of God’s Spirit assures us that we are His children.
But what does it mean to be a child of God? Look at verse 17, Romans, chapter 8 – “…and if children, then heirs – heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” The Spirit of God bears witness with the spirit of the Christian that they are indeed the children God. What does this child have, by right as an adopted son? They are afforded all right to all inheritance. If we are His children, because of this adoption, we are heirs.
Well, just what is the estate that we inherit? We are heirs of God. God is our inheritance. This is the very same inheritance that we find in the book of Deuteronomy that the Levites, the priestly nation, received. They had no inheritance of an earthly possession; their inheritance was God. Now you may say, “What exactly does it mean to be an inheritor of God?” We inherit all that He is and all that He has. He is more glorious than anything or everything. He is all-in-all. We inherit HIM. That’s what we receive. You say, “I’d really like a million dollars.” No you wouldn’t!! He’s a little bit bigger. No!! A lot, infinitely bigger!! …and better.
Now, we have to recognize that this is a matter of being and not doing. The rich young ruler came to Jesus, as revealed to us in the gospels, and he says to Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is a logical fallacy. There’s nothing you can do to get an inheritance. It’s a matter of being, you’re born into that. We are born again into this inheritance. You did nothing to receive that inheritance. There’s nothing you can do to inherit it. Nothing. It’s a matter of being, not doing. Secondly, regarding this inheritance of God, it is the same, as we said, inheritance, as I said, that the Levites received in the Old Testament. And God is infinitely greater and more glorious than anything and everything. So in receiving Him, inheriting Him, we’re inheriting everything. All the fullness dwells in Him. We are complete in Him, says Colossians, chapter 1.
Well, to what extent; what is the extent of our inheritance? Do we get just like a small portion? And you know, Jesus is the only begotten of the Father; I mean, He gets a much bigger portion, and we just get… No, no, no, no. We’re joint heirs with Christ. We became joint heirs with Christ, and so we partake of the same glory as the risen Lord, the same glory. 1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God.” The first verse said, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called His children.” “Beloved, now we are the children of God,” because of His love, “and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be.” We don’t quite know what it’s going to be like when we get to heaven. “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be,” but we know this, “that when He,” Jesus, “is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Philippians 3:21 says, Jesus “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.” Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
But the “fly in the ointment,” if you will, is there at the end of this verse, 17, Romans 8:17 – if you’re the children of God, “then heirs – heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed you suffer?” What?!? “If you indeed suffer with Him, that you may also be glorified together with Him.” In Christ we have an eternal inheritance of glory, from God, and with Christ. But as joint heirs of Christ’s glory, we are also, mark this down, we are also joint heirs of His suffering. Now, this may seem strange, and so let me read to you from the “prince of preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, what he says about this. Because I think it’s glorious:
“Christ’s cross is entailed to all heirs of God. Will you take the cross? What you say! Do thy shoulders forbid, and refuse themselves the pain of bearing it? Then, remember, thy head must deny also the pleasure of wearing the crown. No cross no crown. If you are joint heir and would claim one part of the estate, you must take the rest. Added to this you must also be the heir of persecution. Christ had to be persecuted and so must you. If you, for fear of shame, and out of love of the flesh, will not follow Christ through an evil generation, neither shall you follow him when in the marches through the streets of heaven in triumph, amidst the acclamations of angels.”
He goes on: “Would you take Job’s jewels, and not his dung-hill? Would you have David’s crown, but not the caves of Adullam, or the rocks and the wild goats? Would you have the Master’s throne, but not His temptation in the wilderness? Then, remember, it cannot be; when you refuse the one, you relinquish claim to the other. The co-heir is heir of the entire estate; and if he says, ‘No, not to the portion,’ then he is not an heir of any; and if he makes exemption anywhere, he makes exemption to the whole. The joint heirship reaches from gloomy patina, deep affliction up to the bright ineffable splendor of the throne of bliss, nor can any man reverse the record. If so be we suffer with Him, we shall be also glorified together.”
Now this suffering, we should recognize, it’s not a condition; it’s not as if God is saying, “If you don’t suffer, you’re not really a son.” No. What it’s saying is because you’re a son and you inherit the glory, you’re also inheriting the full part of the estate, which also means that there is the difficulty of the suffering. And so we’re confronted with this importance of counting the cost of following Christ, where He says, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple,” in Luke, chapter 14, verse 27. Yes, this suffering could be terribly great. The fellowship of suffering and the dreadful experiences of trial and temptation and testing and persecution in this life, it could be dreadful – the things that you might face. The likes of which things conform to the death of Christ. Some people experience trial to the point of like being crucified. Some of Jesus’ own disciples were crucified; many were martyred. There are still martyrs today that experience suffering. And yet Paul, in Philippians, chapter 3, he seems to welcome these things. Why? Philippians 3:10 says this: “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” We all want to know Him and the power of His resurrection. “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” In Romans, chapter 5 Paul said that these things are a glorious thing, he said, “not only so, but we glory in tribulations, knowing,” what? “that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope.” How is it possible for us to glory in these things? We want all the glories of the inheritance of God and heaven, with Him for eternity, but now between that point and this point, there may be suffering and difficulty. How can we possibly inherit the suffering and the difficulty?
Look at verse 18 of Romans 8, we’ll close with this: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Suffering was central to Paul’s understanding of what it was like to be a follower of Jesus. Why? Because three days after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, in Acts, chapter 9, God sent a man by the name of Ananias to go and speak with Saul of Tarsus, who would become Paul the apostle. And Ananias was told by God, “I’m going to show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Suffering was central to Paul’s understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Before he wrote the book of Romans, he had suffered in ways that we can’t comprehend. And he lists these things out for us in 2 Corinthians, about being shipwrecked, and beaten, and whipped – 195 times he received lashes from Jews. Three times he was beaten with rods; that’s all before his Roman imprisonment that comes after the book of Romans. That’s all before he’s beheaded for his faith. And Paul says, “God showed me how many things I must suffer for His name. He told me at the very beginning, ‘Listen, if you want to receive the inheritance of glory, it’s going to mean you’re going to go through difficulty and suffering.’”
What this is is that God tells us the whole story. He doesn’t just say, “Hey man, it’s all gonna be, you know, a bed of roses. Everything’s gonna be great,” like some of the modern evangelists of our day. No, He says, “Listen, there is suffering that you will face. But, know this for certain, as a child of God, the salvation is far greater than anything you could ever suffer.” Because we know this for certain, we know this for certain “that the sufferings of this present world are not even worthy to be compared,” they can’t even be listed in the same category “with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Notice the certainty of what Paul says in Romans 8:18, that we shall receive, the glory that we shall receive. It’s not the glory that we might receive, the glory that we shall receive. Paul, in Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is possible that you may suffer shame for the name of Christ in this life, but there is an eternity of salvation on the other side.
Paul continues, Romans 8:19, let me just read this, it’s where we’re going: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits,” we’re in eager anticipation, for the glory that shall be revealed, “for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption to the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole of creation,” all of creation “is groaning and labors with birth pains together until now. Not only so, but we also have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves.” How many of you have experienced this groaning? “We’re groaning within ourselves.” For what? “…eagerly waiting for the adoption,” the redemption, “of our bodies. For we were saved in hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for why does one still hope when he sees? But if we hope for what see not, we eagerly wait with perseverance,” we know it’s coming because He’s assured it to us, and given us His Holy Spirit as a down payment. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness, for we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered.” We’re getting, next week to this place – “All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” Glorious. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Let’s stand together. We’re going to have the worship team come up and play us one last song as we close, as we worship the Lord together. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank You, that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in You. And because we are in You, we know our destination is certain, our destination is certain that we will receive the adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Lord, we eagerly wait for this, we look forward to it. Lord help us today, this week, to walk in Your Spirit, to fall in love with You as You’re revealed in Your word, to get to know You, to see how You lived and walked, Lord, to know Your word, that when we’re encountered with temptation to walk in the flesh, that we will say, “It is written,” and using the sword of the Spirit, experience Your victory, not ours. Work this in us we pray. Let’s worship Him.